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Stonington, Connecticut

The Town of Stonington, Connecticut, in the southeastern corner of the state, includes the communities of the Borough of Stonington, Mystic, Old Mystic, Pawcatuck and Wequetequock, the site of the first European settlement in 1649, in lands that had belonged to the Pequots. The town of North Stonington was set off from Stonington in 1724 and incorporated in 1807.

The Borough of Stonington occupies a point of land that projects into Little Narragansett Bay. The lack of through traffic or modern industry, together with the Borough's role as a fashionable summer residence since the Civil War era, have preserved its Colonial, Federal, and outstanding Greek Revival domestic architecture, while the activity of Connecticut's last remaining fishing and lobstering fleet save it from preciousness. There is a large Portuguese community.

In the waters off Stonington, the States of New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island comes together.

Stonington repulsed two British naval bombardments, one, during the American Revolution a desultory bombardment by Sir James Wallace in the frigate Rose, August 30, 1775, the other more damaging three-day bombardment, of 9-12 August 1814, from a squadron under Capt. Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy, in whose arms Nelson died at Trafagar. The British were again repulsed. The American versifier Philip Freneau wrote (in part)

"The bombardiers with bomb and ball
Soon made a farmer's barrack fall,
And did a cow-house badly maul
That stood a mile from Stonington.

They kill'd a goose, they kill'd a hen
Three hogs they wounded in a pen—
They dashed away and pray what then?
This was not taking Stonington.

But some assert, on certain grounds,
(Beside the damage and the wounds),
It cost the king ten thousand pounds
To have a dash at Stonington.'

The Stonington lighthouse, a low stone building, was the first lighthouse established by the U.S. Federal Government, in 1823. In the 19th century Stonington supported a small fishing, whaling and sealing fleet, with some direct trade with the West Indies, enough in volume for it to be made a Port of Entry in 1842. The very young Capt. Nathaniel Palmer, in charge of the sloop Hero was seal hunting in the South Shetland Islands in the winter season of 1820, when he was sent southwards to investication a volcanic eruption under the horizon, and sighted Antarctica.

Other famous residents of Stonington have included the explorer Edmund Fanning, who discovered Palmyra Island south of Hawai'i; the Beaux-Arts architect Edward P. York, of York and Sawyer; the poets Stephen Vincent Benet and James Merrill, whose 'Water Street' evokes Stonington; and the garden essayist Eleanor Perenyì

See also: Stonington (borough), Connecticut


Henry Robinson Palmer, Stonington by the Sea, 1957